Tag Archives: Adam LaRoche

Hoping to Finalize the Contract, Is Napoli Really the Answer?

When signed, will Mike Napoli continue to mash at Fenway?

When signed, will Mike Napoli continue to mash at Fenway?

Since the Red Sox and Mike Napoli informally agreed to terms on a 3 year $39 million contract, the NHL Lockout has been settled, the Patriots are hosting a home playoff game this Sunday and Rajon Rondo has been suspended twice.  Now we know why the deal has not been settled. The Red Sox like always, are pushing for either less money or less years for Napoli’s services, whose injury history is well known. The Sox brass seems to be worried about his hip.  Neither side has real leverage. Napoli, if sent back to the open market would be seen as damaged goods, if the Red Sox do not finalize an agreement within a few weeks.  The Red Sox need a first baseman and do not want to give up a draft pick to sign Adam LaRoche.  This relationship is rocky from the start, even with the marriage seeming destined to happen once the season ended.

Napoli, I feel, will finally sign with the Red Sox sometime next week as arbitration hearings on unsigned and controllable players are coming up.  Those seem to be settled as every player with get a raise, even Andrew Bailey.  Napoli is no defensive wiz at first base but, the Red Sox feel the rest of the infield defense can pick up the slack. Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks can carry the weight and help the pitchers out, making the majority of routine plays.  Three years and $39 million is vastly overpaying for a guy who didn’t hit above .230 last year.  The Red Sox are paying him solely on the fact that he mashes at Fenway Park and is a good clubhouse presence.  Almost all of the money saved from the Dodgers blockbuster trade has been spent on five players, if this deal is ever settled.

When Napoli is signed, where will he hit in the order? I feel the way the Red Sox lineup may go has him hitting fifth in the order, which I do not like at all but that is just how the roster is. The batting order I envision would go something like this:

  • CF Ellsbury
  • 2B Pedroia
  • 3B Middlebrooks
  • DH Ortiz
  • 1B Napoli
  • LF Gomes
  • RF Victorino
  • C Saltalmacchia
  • SS Drew

Give or take a few moves the batting order could look like that.  The Red Sox no longer have a 40 homer 120 RBI threat.  Ortiz cannot reach those numbers anymore.  I love Middlebrooks and his potential but he is not a thumper the Red Sox need, at least not yet.  Jonny Gomes as a six hitter scares me.  He has never started regularly and is making more this year than he has in his eleven year career.  I understand contracts in baseball are almost never lived up to.  We had our own examples in town last year, but throwing money at empty holes does not solve anything.

As much as the offense will be talked about, last year they did still score runs.  The pitching was abysmal. Bring in Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan and all things are solved? Not quite.  Dempster is an innings eater but the AL East may change that.  He will not be asked to be an ace though.  Hanrahan has been announced as the closer already and hopefully that does not get to his head with Andrew Bailey ready to step in if needed.  With the acquisition of Hanrahan the trades for relievers last year in Bailey and Melancon (traded for Hanrahan) have been admitted as failures.  I still feel the Red Sox need to add some pitching depth possibly some minor league deals to Jair Jurrjens or Jeff Karstens.  Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales will be the long men but bouncing back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation is not easy for everyone.

With spring training just five weeks away, many key free agents remain unsigned like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse, which the Red Sox figure to stay away from both.  Once those players sign, the market for other players I feel will materialize and the Red Sox will add some depth to the rotation. The real question is, what else will happen between now and when the Napoli signing is finalized? With hockey and baseball on the horizon and football playoffs in full swing, it is a good time to be a sports fan.

Red Sox’ Off-Season Plans Come Into Focus At GM Meetings

John Farrell has settled into his job at Red Sox manager and the Sox brass has convened in California for the annual MLB GM meetings.  The Red Sox are not likely to make any major moves during the meetings but these yearly affairs are usually used to plant the seeds for whatever the teams have planned out for their off-season.  If you read the tea leaves you can see a strategy coming together for the Sox.

Torii Hunter could be a LF option for the Red Sox

First is the outfield.  The Red Sox have both corner positions to fill and Cody Ross is a free agent and no sure bet to return.  They have been linked to young Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton but the price tag seems to be a bit high.  The Diamondbacks are keen on getting a young infielder for the left side of their infield and the Sox are not about to give up Will Middlebrooks or Xander Boegarts for Upton.  The other big name going around is Torii Hunter.  Hunter will be 38 next season but has still been productive and relatively healthy over the past few seasons.  He’s also always enjoyed success at Fenway Park.  Another name intriguing to some is Jason Bay.  Bay had a nightmare stint in New York with the Mets after leaving Boston following the 2009 season but his agent swears that he is over the post-concussion issues that plagued him during his New York run.  You’d have to have a really good back-up plan but he would be cheap and a high-risk/high reward type of signing.

Then there is 1st base.  The Red Sox chased Adrian Gonzalez for many years and we thought that we had him for the long haul after the Sox traded for him before the 2011 season.  Gonzalez was shipped off to LA and the Sox now have a gaping hole at first.  The two big names on teh Sox radar are Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche.  Napoli is another guy the Sox have long coveted but he may not be able to handle 1B full time and won’t likely cut into David Ortiz’ DH time so the Red Sox will have to make a decision whether or not he’d be an every day option at 1st.  LaRoche was actually a Sox for a week in 2010 before being traded for Casey Kotchman.  LaRoche had a stellar year in Washington, winning both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award for National League 1st Basemen.  He is 33 and will likely be seeking a 3-year deal.  He was tendered an offer by the Nationals but the Red Sox would only have to give up a 2nd round pick for him since their 1st round pick is protected.  Of the two I see better value in LaRoche, who has a Fenway Park swing to go along with better defense.

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